BY KIMORA COCHRAN
Within seconds of announcing his support for gay marriage, President Barack Obama was morphed into the “The First Gay President” – instead of the “First Black President,” as we all affectionately knew him to be.
Since then, preachers, clergy, community leaders and social justice advocates across the country have rushed to vocalize their disgust with the President’s personal view on gay marriage. But, why are they so upset?
It’s no secret: many African American fathers would prefer their son be a drug dealer than to be gay, if forced to pick the lesser of two “evils.” Historically, African Americans have been more intolerable towards gays (especially gay men) than other racial groups. Only 39 percent of African Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of White Americans, according to a Pew poll conducted in April 2012. In the same study, 49 percent of Blacks and 43 percent of Whites are opposed to gay marriage.
The lion’s share of Black opposition to gay marriage can be attributed to their deep-seated religious beliefs. Some would even argue that the friction between African Americans and gay people stems from the common comparison of gay people struggling for civil rights just like African Americans were forced to.
Either way, it has all come crashing down in the lap of the President this week. And there are Black folks out there who fear it has come crashing down on them, as well.
The conversation is being held in barber shops, salons and churches everywhere: has Obama’s revelation weakened the social/cultural power of Black men in ways that deteriorate their role as defenders, providers, and strong role models? During a day and time when African American women are already concerned about discovering their man is a “down low brotha”, did Obama just make it tougher for Black men to enter into a trustworthy relationship?
When Black men are constantly portrayed as effeminate on television and in movies ( i.e. Tyler Perry’s Madea series; gay fraternity brother Calvin on Greek; Alex Newell on The Glee Project and Lafayette in True Blood) was this really a good time for the first Black President to come out in support of gay marriage, knowing that gay is commonly associated with femininity?
The honest and concrete answer to all of the above mentioned questions was penned down in a quote by civil rights activist, Black intellectual father and Pan-Africanist W.E.B. DuBois over 75 years ago. DuBois spoke about African Americans’ sensitive nature when it comes to their portrayal in media:
We want everything that is said about us to tell of the best and highest and noblest in us. We insist that our Art and Propaganda be one. We fear that the evil in us will be called racial while in others it is viewed as individual. We fear that our shortcomings are not merely human but foreshadowings and threatenings of disaster and failure.
That is where President Obama struck the true cord with African Americans. Somewhere during his four year term we’ve allowed the opinions and actions of the President to not be those of his own, but to be the beliefs and opinions of the entire African American race.
As recognized by Pastor Jamal Bryant earlier this week, African Americans elected a President, a Commander-in-Chief – not our personal Pastor-in-Chief, not a father, and certainly not Jesus. Therefore, allow his opinions on gay marriage to be just that … HIS!
If one supports the gay rights opinion of our President that is his/her God given choice to do so. If one does not then so be it. However, do not persecute and blame him for the further demise of African American men, especially when the self proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” Jay-Z has also stated he too, a major Black business mogul – who our Black sons also admire – is in full agreement with Obama’s views on gay marriage. As much we all enjoy singing “Empire State of Mind” every time it comes on the radio, it is only fair to admit Shawn Carter’s hits like “Big Pimpin’”, “Money Cash H**s” and the likes have damaged the image of Black men more severely than Obama’s opinion on gay marriage ever will.
Lastly, to all African American’s who are basing their opinions and ridicule against the President strictly upon of their religious beliefs, lest I remind you of two Scriptures from the Bible: John 8:7 and Matthew 7:1.